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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Women’s soccer season recap: where did it go wrong?

Bulls missed MAC Tournament for first time since 2013

After ending the season with back-to-back losses, UB women’s soccer (7-5-6, 4-4-3 MAC) failed to qualify for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament for the first time in head coach Shawn Burke’s tenure.

Burke’s team only won two of six home MAC games this season. The Bulls defense also allowed 22 goals past their keeper, more than double the nine they let in last season. 

The Bulls kept their postseason hopes alive until the final match against Kent State (11-6-2, 7-4 MAC). UB lost 2-1 at home, but this game wouldn’t have been a nailbiter if a handful of prior games had ended just a little differently.

Heartbreaker at Ohio

On Sept. 24, the Bulls visited Ohio and lost 1-0. The result was tough to stomach, as Buffalo outshot Ohio 12-8 overall and 7-4 in shots on goal.

Adding salt to the wound, in the 89th minute, the Bulls missed a penalty kick. This truly hurt the Bulls, especially since in the last matchday, the only two teams fighting for a playoff spot were UB and Ohio. Had the Bulls won this game, the final matchday may have looked very different.

Too many ties

Although draws aren’t as bad as losses, they don’t add to a teams’ point and win percentages like a win would. In conference play, UB tied three games. One of those stalemates was against 11th place Eastern Michigan (1-12-6, 1-8-2 MAC), a team that wasn’t anywhere near a MAC tournament at the end of the season.

The Bulls ended up blowing a 3-1 lead in the dying moments of the game.

“This one is on me,” head coach Shawn Burke said in a UB Athletics press release at the time. “Credit to Eastern Michigan for their fight, but I should have made changes considering the conditions and I asked too much of them today. Drawing after being up 3-1 with 15 minutes to go should never happen and I have to take ownership of that.”

Historic loss at home

Buffalo’s stunning 5-0 loss to Ball State (​​8-8-3, 6-2-3 MAC) at UB stadium marked the team’s biggest loss since 2018. It was extra disappointing knowing the Bulls outshot Ball State with a 12-5 advantage in total shots and a 9-5 advantage in shots on goal.

This was a heartbreaking defeat to stomach at the halfway point of the season, and it clearly had some long-lasting effects: after this loss, the Bulls only managed to win two of the season’s remaining five games.

Moving forward with heads held high

The Bulls may have had a tough season, but that doesn’t discredit some of the milestones the team hit this year, especially offensively.

Sophomore midfielder Katie Krohn scored 13 points, a little more than half the team’s goals for the season. That performance placed her in a tie for third in UB Division-I history for single-season goals. 

Fifth-year midfielder Leah Wengender led the Bulls in assists this season with five, a career high for her. 

Coach Shawn Burke also hit 100 wins this season — faster than any UB coach before him. — and his two prior MAC championships are proof that he knows how to get results. This season may have been a disappointment, but the women’s soccer team has a future to look forward to.

Ricardo Castillo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at ricardo.castillo@ubspectrum.com 

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